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Text-book Ireland set up an interesting final test next Saturday

Australia 21, Ireland 26
A MAGNIFICENT performance by Ireland in the second test this morning saw them level the series. It was a textbook display of rugby from Joe Schmidt’s outfit with the Munster players on duty particularly impressive. The stats will show that Ireland had the bulk of territory and possession over the 80 minutes. Their running of the ball, defensive qualities and reliability at the set-piece gave Ireland the edge throughout and a consolation seven pointer for the Wallabies with the last play of the game put a better appearance on the scoreboard for the home fans.
On a night in Melbourne when every player in the green shirt put on outstanding performances, captain Peter O’Mahony was superb, winning numerous turnovers, leading by example throughout and tremendous in the lineout. Niall Scannell had a blinder on his return at hooker, part of a front-row that completely out-played their opponents. It will be a memorable occasion for Munster-bound Tadhg Beirne who won his first cap when he came on late in the second half.
Similar to the previous week, Ireland had the better of a thrilling first half and should have led with a more comfortable lead than 14-16 at the break. Australia had burst out of the blocks tigerishly and led after one minute and 28 seconds when Curtley Bale took a brilliant line from a reverse pass to go over and Bernard Foley kicked the conversion.
It was 20 minutes before the Australians got into a similar attacking position as Ireland totally dominated the game. The green and whites levelled the game at 7-7 on six minutes. Wallabies wing Marika Koroibete was sin-binned for a high tackle and Sexton popped the ball into the 22 from the penalty. James Ryan made a brilliant catch at the back of the lineout from Niall Scannell’s throw and Murray placed Andrew Conway for a try which Sexton converted.
Ireland’s superiority paid dividends with penalties from Johnny Sexton on the 11th, 15th and 20th minutes pushing the Irish into a 7-16 lead. Australia badly needed a reply and it came on 26 minutes. Attacking off a lineout, the home pack disrupted the Irish defence and referee Paul Williams ran to the posts to award a seven pointer which reduced the lead to 14-16. Cian Healy was yellow carded but Ireland got a late chance to increase their lead on the stroke of halftime, Sexton’s long distance effort drifting left and wide of the posts.
An injury to Andrew Conway early in the game saw him replace on the right wing by Jordan Larmour.
Ireland took up where they left off in the second half and were unlucky to concede a penalty when with sight of the line. A superb break by Keith Earls set up a deserved second try on 53 minutes. The Munster wing got over but the TMO ruled otherwise. In the next phase Ireland got a crucial try, Tadhg Furlong accellerating over from eight metres out and Sexton’s conversions pushing the lead to 14-23. Ireland had to defend for periods after that but another Johnny Sexton penalty increased the gap to 12 points, 14-26 with 17 minutes remaining. Australia got within distance of a win that they would not have deserved on the overall play with three minutes remaining, replacement prop Tupon barging over and Foley converting, but the Irish held firm in a tense final phase to claim a deserved victory.
Ireland: Rob Kearney; Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Keith Earls; Jonny Sexton, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Niall Scannell, Tadhg Furlong; James Ryan, Devin Toner; Peter O’Mahony (capt), Dan Leavy, CJ Stander. Replacements: Rob Herring, Jack McGrath, Andrew Porter, Tadhg Beirne, Jordi Murphy, John Cooney, Joey Carbery, Jordan Larmour
Australia: Israel Folau; Dane Haylett-Petty, Samu Kerevi, Kurtley Beale, Marika Koroibete; Bernard Foley, Will Genia; Scott Sio, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Sekope Kepu, Izack Rodda, Adam Coleman; David Pocock, Michael Hooper (captain), Caleb Timu. Replacements: Tolu Latu, Tom Robertson, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Lukhan Tui, Pete Samu, Nick Phipps, Reece Hodge.
Kick-off in Melbourne is 11am with live converage on RTE’s 2FM as well as being shown on Sky Sport.

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